Vista's first Group-wide Customer Conference!

Director’s cut

In the final quarter of 2016, many of us in the film industry are gearing up for the end-of-year boom, anticipating holiday releases and big weekends. Here at Vista, we’re also preparing for our own blockbuster event, due to premiere early next season; the biennial Vista Customer Conference. The March 2017 event promises to be extra special, not only because it coincides with Vista’s 21st birthday, but also because for the first time, we will host our first Vista Group Conference, complete with presentations, demonstrations and discussion about all of the offerings across our businesses.

With these milestones on the horizon, it’s timely to take stock of where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. In many ways, Vista is the quintessential story of New Zealand business; that of a small originally homegrown venture making good locally before going global. From humble beginnings serving a local Auckland cinema complex, Vista is now poised to enter more markets than ever with recent developments including homologation confirmed in Brazil, new business in Scandanavia and market entry into Japan. A cutting-edge POS and Back Office system developed way back in 1996 has evolved into a world-leading product suite catering to the film industry around the globe. Fast forward to 2016 and we’ve helped to turn 'Aotearoa - the land of the long white cloud' (a.k.a. New Zealand) into the land of the digital cloud, with tech the fastest-growing sector in Aotearoa today, already making up 8% of GDP.

None of this would be possible without the ongoing support of our customers around the world; we welcome you all once again to attend our special event. Now in its eighth iteration, the Vista Conference has a history of bringing exhibition customers together with each other and with us, for a week of intense exposure to technology innovation and discussion. Above all, it’s a chance to discover how Vista can be an even better technology partner for your cinema, and to share in our mutual endeavor to continue to build a stronger film sector.

Sneak peeks

Since our last conference in 2015 six months following our debut as a publicly-listed company, Vista Group has welcomed three new members to our family – Cinema Intelligence, Powster and our first consumer (moviegoer) facing business, Flicks. Like a back-to-back Star Wars marathon, the growth of the Group means that our product showcase and the benefits and opportunities it delivers will be bigger than ever.

To give you a sneak peak, our Group event will place particular emphasis on approaches to cloud technology, a term often surrounded with uncertainty. We’ll be diving into exactly what it means for Vista, notably strategies for ultimately moving away from software that must be physically installed at each site, towards a centrally controlled model, and the new frameworks and infrastructures that will require.

These exciting future trajectories will see Vista set to deliver exceptional performance and support as the tech sector enters cloud-first delivery and web-based management applications. Lighter, nimbler, more powerful, more accessible platforms and features will give you the tools to future-proof your business operations and revenue streams.

We’re also thrilled to show our guests a host of new features in our core products, such as POS Training Mode, the number one voted request from our 2015 Conference.

Conference is where our customers get to see us in action as the leading full-service software provider across the film industry. The scale and scope of our offering always makes an impression, and it’s great to showcase Vista’s knowledge and expertise. Customers come away with a strong sense of our strategic direction for the next few years, and that has direct benefits for their business.

Mark Pattie, Head of Product Design, Vista Entertainment Solutions

Conference 2017 will also feature a star-studded cast from across the Group. MACCS are flying all the way from the Netherlands to tell us about the new relationships and improved reporting processes its MaccsBox software can facilitate between exhibitors and distributors. Come and hear how Movio are working to leverage big data analytics to engage the next generation of moviegoers. And Numero will present the latest developments in its global-scale box office reporting platform, which is currently meeting a new and unprecedented reporting standard for Australian and New Zealand distributors.

Newcomers Cinema Intelligence are set to make an impact including the integration of their predictive analytics software with Vista Film Programming, providing a new era of sophisticated forecasting for optimizing schedules right across a film’s lifetime. In another premiere, Powster are bringing demonstrations of their award-winning creative prowess, to show you how new interactive and VR experiences can drive audiences to your cinemas, and place you firmly on the radar of distributors.

“In the past our conference has been primarily about Vista Cinema, but in 2017 we will be showcasing innovative solutions and new products from all our companies,” says Murray Holdaway, CEO of Vista Group. “I think even our experienced conference attendees are in for a surprise.”

Backstage passes

Conference is also where behind-the-scenes magic comes to life. It’s a chance to meet the seldom-seen business analysts, developers, testers, designers, architects, and process managers that create the software running across so many of the world's cinemas.

Product demonstrations from the source provide fresh insights and a chance to ask questions pertinent to specific business challenges. With so much functionality supported, uncovering both new and existing features with resident experts, is often an unexpected bonus for many customers. In turn, our software creators learn first-hand how you use the software in 'real-life' operational circumstances, fostering design excellence and better product experiences.

“The whole Vista family attends, and it’s always fantastic to see so many of our customers and team members getting to know each other via our conference schedule and activities and benefitting from hands-on exposure to our products. Building relationships face-to-face strengthens mutual understanding, and the immediate feedback from customers is absolutely critical for us when we’re working to deliver on their priorities,” says Dave Smith, Head of Customer Success at Vista Entertainment Solutions.

For Vista, it’s essential that the exchange is never one-way. Throughout Conference, our customers know we’re always open to questions, comments, and feedback. Each presentation concludes with the opportunity to vote on new functionality you would like to see developed. “The voting sessions provide a great chance to help influence the priorities of what features are in the queue to help improve the overall product and experience for our guests,” says Scott Behnke, Vice President of Risk Management at Cineplex Entertainment, Toronto.

Customers also have the opportunity to exchange ideas amongst themselves. Fresh insights into how peers in other markets around the globe operate are a bonus for operational and innovative learning. Discussing common challenges and hearing different perspectives is often a springboard for new ideas and initiatives back home. “Vista’s conference is a great opportunity to collaborate with other exhibitors who use Vista around the world and learn how they utilize the different functionalities to support their business,” says Carole Malek, Vice President of Theatre Support Services at Regal Entertainment Group.

The Vista Customer Conference is an excellent way for us to network with many different exhibitors in a way that is unparalleled in the theatre industry. The opportunity to gather feedback and gain insight about the concerns and challenges that we all face is an invaluable learning experience. It is rewarding to work with Vista and other Vista clients in a constructive environment, to contribute to the development of future solutions for our industry.

Aron Barr, Director of IT, Harkins Theatres

Special effects

While the flight may be a little longer than some of our customers are used to, Vista’s New Zealand HQ promises a host of delights that make the journey more than worthwhile. Beautiful weather, (it's Summer in March...) delicious kai (that’s Māori for ‘food’ - you will get used to Māori names), and impressive scenery are just a few experiences. What better way to see the stunning location that movie studios are flocking to year after year!

Conference aims to give our global customers a taste of the local, a slice of the proverbial Kiwi pie; we recommend a good steak and cheese by the way. From the early days of going bush to today’s title of adventure capital of the world, New Zealand has become famous for its recreational offerings. While you’re here, soak up some sun on the beach, or spot some majestic whales and playful dolphins while cruising the Auckland Harbour. For the more adventurous, take part in a heart-pounding race aboard America’s Cup yachts for the ultimate sailing thrill. Or, just relax and unwind on a wine tasting trail deep in Auckland's bush-covered Waitakere Ranges, or sign up for a few rounds of golf on one of our world-class courses.

For many returning customers, the Kiwi sense of fun represents a highlight of their experience, offering something distinctive every time. “I have had the privilege and honor to be a part of the last two Vista User Conferences.  After attending and presenting at a number of other user conferences, I do not hesitate to say that Vista’s conference is the best… by a large margin!” says Daniel Maggart, Strategic New Sales at Vantiv Entertainment Solutions. “From a personal perspective, these conferences have caused me and my family to fall in love with New Zealand. We would move there tomorrow if we could!”

We Kiwis tend to be a little reluctant to self-promote, but we have no doubt our conference will be always be an unforgettable experience and hosting it in New Zealand is a a big part of achieving that. Besides, the last time (the only time) we decided to take conference elsewhere, we and our conference guests had to shelter from a hurricane for 3 full days! To get the full story of how that happened, come down and ask us in person.

Conference is always about what we can do for your business going forward, so join us as we unroll our red carpet for you, our fantastic and hugely valued customers.

Follow #VistaGroupCon on twitter.

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